Nearly two months after 15 people were killed in a bus crash in the Bronx, federal regulators have announced new safety rules for long-distance buses that increase oversight on drivers and new bus companies.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said new bus lines will have to undergo safety audits before they can sell their first ticket. And bus drivers could lose their commercial licenses if they violate drug and alcohol laws even while operating their own private car.
The rules were embraced by American Bus Association president Peter Pantuso, who joined LaHood at a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday for the announcement The association represents existing carriers that wouldn't be subject to the safety audits. And the toughest of the new rules are aimed at drivers, like the creation of a national database tracking the results of drivers' alcohol and drug tests.
Whether the rule change about driving under the influence would have prevented the bus crash in the Bronx is doubtful. That driver had been stopped in his private car -- but for speeding, not DUI. And he kept the summonses from affecting his commercial license by allegedly giving a false name to police.
Bus companies and state transportation agencies will have three years to prepare to comply with the new safety rules.